14 December 2019, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ The traditional six-race meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 15 December 2019, kicks off with the only Thoroughbred contest, a 2400m handicap. It is a typically wide-open contest for such an event in the capital, in which the weights are headed by Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Zamaam, to be saddled by Erwan Charpy and one of two among 12 declarations for the trainer owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The other five Arabian Purebred races feature the 3-year-olds, and includes the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic and fillies’ equivalent, both over 1400m and carrying Prestige status. Ernst Oertel saddled the winner of both for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda in 2018.
The fillies go first with AF Nashrah (AF Maqan Alezz), the mount of Tadhg O’Shea, who was aboard their victorious AF Mouthirah last year. AF Nashrah has only one outing over this course and distance on her sole career start at the end of October.
Looking good is Dhafra (Abu Alemarat), winner of her only start, also over this track and trip in early November for Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel, looks sure to go close under Fabrice Veron, who was also in the saddle when she won.
Also unbeaten after one start is Maria Al Reef (Mawood), a 1200m maiden winner on the Sharjah dirt in early November when ridden by Szczepan Mazur for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami. She will be saddled on this occasion by Ridha ben Attia.
Antonio Fresu won the colts’ race for Oertel and Al Nabooda last year aboard AF Saab and they combine this time with AF Yeheeb (AF Alsalaam), winner once from two starts, his second over 1000m on dirt at Sharjah having struggled over this Abu Dhabi 1400m on turf.
O’Shea appears to have chosen to ride the same connections’ AF Musannef (AF A Buraq), unplaced in two starts, but well ahead of his stable companion when they debuted in the same 1400m maiden here in the capital.
Again Sheikha Alyazia, Lemartinel and Veron appear to have a strong contender, this time Maqam (Abu Alemarat), winner of his second start over 1200m at Sharjah, having previously chased home AF Yeheeb over 1000m at the same venue.